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September 14, 2006

Chevy's contest could learn you a thing or two.

Days ago, the blogosphere noted that Chevy is sponsoring a contest wherein college students will compete to create a Super Bowl spot. Don't confuse this with raw consumer-generated content, however. This is a contest that will put CGC through the same wringer as OFAGC (old-fashioned agency-generated content).

A glance at the press release reveals the conditions:

1. Ideas will be submitted in writing first. Students, this is known as the RFP process. You will need to be willing to invest blood, sweat and tears with absolutely no guarantee of reward. Your ideas will be judged by subjective criteria. You may have a great idea that is rejected for reasons that you won't ever be able to figure. Many will enter. A select few will move on. The good news is that you can participate if you choose. In the real world, you won't always get a chance to play. Even if you are well-qualified for the project.

2. Finalists will present to a committee. Students, this is what's known as a pitch. You will obsess and stress as you pour countless hours of your young life into the process. You will walk into a conference room where a lot of people with varying agendas will sit and stare at you. What you say and how you act can trump the quality of your ideas for good or ill. It can be very stressful. Just ask the remaining agencies in the Wal-mart pitch. One team will win. The others will walk away empty-handed. This is how it goes. The good news is that, unlike the real world, the client is paying for your trip to see them. No mention of material expenses, however. Or if you lose the right to your intellectual property even if you are not selected as the winner.

3. The winner will get to "participate in the production process." Students, this means that winning is likely going to come with some compromises. Here is what Chevy sez: The winning team will participate in the production process as their concept is developed and made into a 30-second television commercial. Notice that word "developed." This means that your idea is likely going to be subjected to tweaking. Maybe even out-and-out overhauling. Your little brainchild will be wrenched from your hands and raised by those who believe they know better (and they might). Later, it will presented to the world as yours. This could be great. Or not. Along the way, you may find that you become upset as portions of your idea are modified. This is natural. It is also something you will deal with for the whole of your professional ad life. If you can't deal with it, it's best to find out now.

Students, I am not discouraging you from entering this contest. Far from it. In fact, I hope that you will enter and pursue victory with gusto. There's no better teacher than experience. And, at the very least, you'll have a campaign for your portfolio. I also believe the client has good intentions. Just go in with your eyes open. The contest is geared to teach you about a few of the realities of a life in advertising. In that sense, it really is, a Chevy puts it, a great opportunity.


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» Advice from a Pro from The Chevy College Super Bowl Ad Challenge
One of the things we hoped this challenge would give students is an idea how commercials are created. John January, a creative at Sullivan, Higdon Sink, has written his take on the Chevy Super Bowl College Ad Challenge. On his [Read More]


It seems there may be hope for chevy yet. After the Tahoe episode, we lost a little hope. It seems interesting that on one hand chevy is still a bit afraid to let the control go. On the other hand, who says that every campain in which the audience participates has to be consumer generated content as defined by anything goes. I beleive this campaign could get a few people exicted and engaged, so even if chevy is still holding onto what little control it thinks it has on its brand, it still has some value.

Can't wait to se what they do next.

Keep up the great show/blog guys

Wow, you've made being condescending into an art form! ;-) j/k

Are there going to be any agency concepts in the Super Bowl this year? Doritos is having a similar contest.

Reid...It's another reason to keep an eye out for Chevy's Super bowl ad. And you can bet there will lots of PR in the bowl ramp up. It's a smart call on Chevy's part.

Corey...I'm in New York this week and it's raining. Must be affecting my attitude. The rain, not New York ;)Good to see you!

Mark...Who knows!

I’m still waiting for the GoDaddy ad contest. Of course, all those entries will look like a Girls Gone Wild video.


thank you for the helpful article. i've entered the contest, and I thought I'd ask if you're interested in advising me and my group. i've asked two of my professors, but i could always use more advice.

Gavin: We'd be glad to help if we can. Drop an email and we'll see what we can work out.

Chevy should let consumers be a client for a day, or week. Maybe then the strategies would be smarter and the creative wouldn't suffer.

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